CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 4, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: BIDEN ON IRAN: 'OBAMA IS NOT BLUFFING'… Vice President Joe Biden stressed the importance of a nuclear free Iran in a speech before AIPAC… “We have a shared strategic commitment. Let me make clear what that commitment is. It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period. Period. End of discussion. Period. Prevent not contain. Prevent. … Big nations can't bluff and Presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff and President Barack Obama is not bluffing. He is not bluffing. We are not looking for war. We are looking to and ready to negotiate peacefully but all options, including military force, are on the table but as I made clear at the Munich Security Conference … the world's preference is for a diplomatic solution.
ATHEISTS APOLOGIZE TO PALIN: BUT STAND BY BILLBOARD’S INTENT… An atheist group that misquoted former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a billboard in Texas is apologizing to the Republican and correcting the mistake. But it continues to defend the “intent and context” of the effort.
For decades, the president of the United States was inaugurated on March 4. Who was the last president inaugurated on that day?
You have to admire parents who are willing to keep in check their own ideas and opinions in order to see their children succeed. In modern politics, look no further than the Bush family where a former president watched one son follow in his footsteps to the White House and another become the governor of Florida.
Former President George H.W. Bush acknowledged the difficulty in having “to sit on the sidelines,” in his updated book ‘All the Best, George Bush; My Life in Letters and Other Writings.’ But he noted it was the right decision “to stay out of the limelight, out of the news, giving quiet support to #43.”
The book will be publicly released Tuesday, but CNN’s Kevin Bohn received an advance copy and his story on what a father, a former president thought as he watched his son in the White House is what caught our eye today.
Former President George H.W. Bush on the criticism of his son, President George W. Bush, received for the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina…
"My heart went out to him. Here is a guy who cares deeply. Who wants every possible resource of the Federal Government brought in to bear to help people, yet he is being roundly accused of not giving a damn...the critics do not know what is in 43's heart, how deeply he feels about the hurt, the anguish, the losses affecting so many people, most of them poor."
The elder Bush, a decorated Navy pilot, ended this letter saying he had been shot down 61 years ago that very day by the Japanese.
"Now I see some of his most nasty critics trying to shoot down my beloved son – shoot him down by mean spirited attacks. I was a scared kid back then. Now I am just an angry old man hurting for my son."
Former President George H.W. Bush on advice he gave his son, President George W. Bush, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks…
"I talked to George. I did tell him the sooner he got back to Washington the better. He totally agreed with that."
Former President George H.W. Bush in a note he sent his son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on the eve of the 2000 presidential election...
“I hope God will bless us with victory in Florida and across the land; but whatever happens our family will be strong and solid and your brother George and your Dad will say Jeb gave it his all and we love that guy. Devotedly, DAD.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Little immediate impact from cuts, but another showdown looms
Congress returned to work on Monday amid the first full week of forced spending cuts, with President Barack Obama and Republicans sticking to deeply entrenched positions that have caused a series of showdowns manufactured by Washington politics. Most predicted impacts of the $85 billion in cuts that took effect on Friday night - such as unpaid furloughs for government workers - won't be evident until April at the earliest, officials say. – Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: Michelle Goes To The Dogs
During her Google Hangout today, first lady Michelle Obama reminded the audience that dogs need a proper diet and exercise, just like children do. The first lady admitted that President Obama liked to tease their own dog, “Bo” for being lazy, but that they encouraged her girls to take him on walks. – Charlie Spiering
Leading HuffPo: Under The Influence
President Barack Obama learned in his first term that he couldn't change Washington from the inside, saying in the heat of his re-election race: "You can only change it from the outside." Months later, his former White House aides and campaign advisers are embracing Obama's words as a call to action. Obama veterans are building a wide network of deep-pocketed groups and consulting firms independent of government, the Democratic Party and traditional liberal groups, a sweeping – if not unprecedented – effort outside the White House gates aimed at promoting the president's agenda and shaping his legacy.
Leading Politico: The age of austerity?
The era of austerity may have arrived. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans are dug in on the sequester, and there are no signs of a quick fix to the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that both sides say they disdain. – Jake Sherman and Carrie Budoff Brown
Leading The New York Times: G.O.P. Clings to One Thing It Agrees On: Spending Cuts
Conservative governors are signing on to provisions of what they once derisively dismissed as Obamacare. Prominent Senate Republicans are taking positions on immigration that would have gotten the party’s presidential candidates hooted off the debate stage during last year’s primaries. All of which helps explain why Speaker John A. Boehner and Congressional Republicans have been so intent on facing down President Obama in their budget dispute. Aware that conservatives could never accept a second round of tax increases this year — and that compromising with Mr. Obama on his terms would lead to party divisions far deeper than those that have emerged so far — Republicans judged that the better course was to take on the economic and political risks associated with the automatic spending cuts that took effect on Friday. – Richard W. Stevenson
Leading CNN Opinion: Sex, politics and the Obama administration
Years ago, in another essay, I offered the advice that follows to President Bill Clinton. Since Obama has dragged the Democratic Party back to the pre-Clinton, old Democrat "era of big government," I offer it again, with only modest revision. Let's discuss government in a way most of us can understand. Let's talk about sex. – Alex Castellanos
The political bites of the day
- GOP warns sequester could bury Obama’s priorities -
A TOP GOP AIDE ON CAPITOL HILL TO CNN’S JIM ACOSTA: “What we have right now is a staring contest. I don't believe there's any chance they can increase the pressure enough for us to raise taxes again. That said, if they have any desire to, it will require a huge investment of time, resources, and political capital. At the expense of the rest of his agenda, he'd have to barnstorm the country and drive a singular message that the sequester is so devastating that we have to raise taxes. There's no way they can put in that investment without taking their eye off the ball on immigration, guns, and whatever else they'd like to do.”
- Obama Cabinet continues to take shape -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ANNOUNCES THE NOMINATION OF THREE CABINET LEVEL POSTS…
ERNIE MONIZ NOMINATED AS SECRETARY OF ENERGY: “Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, our water, and our climate.”
GINA McCARTHY NOMINATED TO LEAD THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: “She has earned a reputation as a straight shooter. She welcomes different points of views. I'm confident that she is going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA.”
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL NOMINATED AS OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET DIRECTOR: “Sylvia knows her way around a budget. But as the granddaughter of Greek immigrants, she also understands that our goal when we put together a budget is not just to make the numbers add up. Our goal is also to reignite the true engine of economic growth in this country, and that is a strong and growing middle class, to offer ladders of opportunity for anybody willing to climb them.”
- Dennis Rodman, the worm and the ambassador to North Korea? -
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING…
Question: Dennis Rodman carried a message from Kim Jong Un and he said to call. Does the president have any intention – what did he make of Dennis Rodman being the ambassador to North Korea?
Carney: I don’t have a readout specific to the president to give to you. I think what I just said makes clear that North Korea ought to be focusing on its own citizens and opportunities to improve their lives and the United States has channels of communication directly to the DPRK and those are the channels we choose to employ.
- Duncan apologizes for pink slips remarks -
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAN AT A MEETING WITH SCHOOL DISTRICT LEADERS: “Language is really, really important and I want to apologize for not being as clear as I should've been last week and because I wasn't as clear, the spotlight was put on me and that's never ever my goal. My goal here is to have the spotlight be on children and families, so when I said ‘pink slips’ that was probably the wrong word. I should've used ‘job eliminations,’ ‘positions eliminated.’”
Gut Check Full Service: Duncan told reporters at the White House last Wednesday that the Kanawha County school system in West Virginia was already handing out pink slips in anticipation of the automatic cuts that, among other things, will impact the amount of federal money states get through September. But an official with the school district cautioned Duncan's explanation wasn't totally accurate. Diane Young, the coordinator of the Head Start program for Kanawha County Public Schools, explained that Head Start, the federal program for needy children, has yet to notify the school system whether it will provide federal money in the fall. – Jim Acosta
- McCain brings back the Straight Talk Express… on Iran -
REPUBLICAN SEN. JOHN McCAIN OF ARIZONA IN A SPEECH TO AIPAC: “I think it is vitally important that in Tehran they understand that the United States – that there is no space between the United States and Israel. That there is no space between the two countries. And I am going to give you a little straight talk. They believe right now in Tehran that there is space between the two countries. If there is on thing that I would hope that the president’s re-election would motivate him to work more closely with the Israeli government and take concerted action if that action is necessary. If it is necessary.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
From George Washington's second inauguration to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inauguration in 1933, almost every presidential term – 33 in all – started on March 4.
The reason for that date was simple: it was the day that the Constitution was ratified in 1789, meaning the day the Senate, the House and the presidential terms all started on that date.
When the 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933, however, a March 4th inauguration became a thing of the past. "The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January," reads the amendment.
From 1933 to the present, January 20th has been Inauguration Day a total of 17 times.
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Congratulations to Megan Goodrich (@MeganBGoodrich) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
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